When was the last time your conversations felt like camping under the stars with friends, sharing stories around a beach bonfire, or catching up past closing time at some regrettable fast-food chain?

RBTL Cohort 5 applications open in March 2022.

    Many of us miss and want more of this quality of connection with the people in our lives, but aren't able to create it because we have a limited way of seeing how connection happens.

    We mistakenly see connection as black or white: we are either engaging in small talk or we're swimming in the deep end.

    But by seeing connections this way, you can prematurely kill a conversation because you think it has no chance of going deeper, or you dive deep too quickly and overwhelm others.

    The 5 Levels of Communication

    According to Richard Francisco, Lecturer at Stanford GSB and psychologist at San Jose Sate University, there are 5 Levels of Communication.

    Levels 1 to 3 are where most small talk and casual conversation happen.

    We often stay here because it feels familiar and safe. It's easy to navigate, but doesn't fulfill our need for more.


    SOURCE: Richard Francisco, Lecturer at Stanford GSB, Psychologist at San Jose State University

    But Levels 4 and 5 are where we experience the kind of depth that we often reminisce about.

    This feels more scary and vulnerable because each person takes a risk to experience these conversations.


    SOURCE: Richard Francisco, Lecturer at Stanford GSB, Psychologist at San Jose State University

    Sabotaging our attempts to connect

    Successfully navigating the 5 Levels is the key to having conversations that feel both deep and fun. But there are two ways we sabotage our attempts to get to Levels 4 and 5.

    🥺 Passive Sabotage

    You want to go deeper, but you're unsure how and end up coming off as awkward or aloof.

    😤 Aggressive Sabotage

    You want to go deeper, but you jump into the deep end too quickly and end up coming off as intense or impatient.

    Let’s look at four different examples of (unintentional) conversational sabotage.











    "In connection, you can have good intentions and still have a negative impact."

    Often, our conversational sabotage is unintentional: we don’t mean harm, yet our unawareness can create disconnects. If we choose to learn how to skillfully move between the Levels of Communication, our conversations begin to flow - there’s no pressure, awkwardness, or sudden jumps between the levels that leave both of you feeling disoriented.

    This is the art of creating Campfire Conversations - depth and play at your fingertips.

    😊 campfire conversations

    campfire conversation EXAMPLE #1


    campfire conversation EXAMPLE #2


    campfire conversation EXAMPLE #3


    campfire conversation EXAMPLE #4


    "Our relationships succeed or fail, gradually then suddenly, one conversation at a time." 

    Susan Scott


    relating between the lines

    Relating Between the Lines is an 8 week program where we will teach you a step-by-step system for listening skillfully and confidently expressing yourself, hold you accountable for practicing these skills with a community of relationship-driven peers, and provide you real-time feedback on your communication, so you discover new ways of connecting with people you love.

    To take Relating Between the Lines is to be invited to lead more present, compassionate, and authentic lives. This is a program to help us make the most of our relationships for the rest of our lives.


    Become more intentional in your conversations instead of running on autopilot.


    Enter conversations without the fear of saying the wrong thing, in the wrong way.


    Connect with a wider range of people by expanding your toolbox for communicating.


    Remain relaxed
    and grounded in the conversations you used to feel awkward in.




    ⚠️ Fear of not knowing what to say

    ⚠️ Pressure to prove your usefulness through fixing people’s problems

    ⚠️ Tolerating people who drain you or are outright unsupportive

    ⚠️ Leaving conversations with the nagging feeling that you could have said things differently or better

    ⚠️ Anxiety that one mistake will ruin your relationships

    ⚠️ Tiptoeing on eggshells around difficult conversations

    ⚠️ Treating emotions as a nuisance meant to be hidden


    ✔️️ Confidence in communicating exactly what you mean

    ✔️ Spaciousness that comes from recognizing the inherent power in listening

    ✔️ Clear boundaries that allow you tO nurture the relationships that fuel you

    ✔️ Peace of mind knowing you leave every conversation with no stone unturned

    ✔️ Courage to revisit conversations to unpack intent and impact

    ✔️ Assertiveness knowing how to have hard conversations with directness and humanity

    ✔️ Freedom to authentically express yourself, knowing the intelligence of emotions


    a new way of connection




    orientation: connecting fast and slow

    We'll start the program by equipping you with a clear understanding of what your conversational hangups look like through the 5 Levels of Communication, and you will pick a few individuals to prioritize your efforts across the program using the Relational Portfolio.

    👥 INTER-personal Learning

    Approach your development of relational intelligence with a bias towards action, rather than theoretical understanding.

    📶 5 Levels of Communication

    Understand where you get stuck in your conversations.

    📊 Relational Portfolio

    Prioritize your relationships by “Return on Relationship”


    LISTENING: supporting over solving

    Module 1: The problem-
solving Pandemic

    At work, our value and status is defined by our ability to solve problems. You will learn how to be emotionally supportive without trying to provide solutions to others.


    🤗 Supporting
    over Solving

    Stay present in conversations without the pressure of figuring out what to say next.

    🎞 Mirroring

    Respond empathetically in conversations without fear of losing important details that were shared.

    🔍 Gentle Inquiry

    Ask unique questions that inspire people to share more interesting parts of themselves.


    LISTENING: Pleasure over Proving

    Module 2: The dark matter of relationships

    Between each person you interact with, a thread is formed. How it strengthens and weakens over time often feels like something that happens to us, not something within our control. We’ll learn how to proactively communicate to strengthen our ties with those that matter.

    🤸‍♀️ Pleasure
    over Proving

    Feel more energized in your conversations by replacing societal "should's" with inner "want's."

    ⭐️ Affirmation

    Point out positive qualities in other people without it coming off as flattery.

    🔗 Attunement

    Spend less time trying to guess if your words and behaviors negatively impact others, and more time being present with others.


    expressing: Congruent over Collected

    Module 3: The intelligence of emotions

    Imagine driving a car without knowing the speed and how much gas is left. That’s what communication without awareness of your emotions is like: driving blind. You will learn how to read your “inner dashboard” called emotions to better inform how you engage with others.


    🎭 Congruent over Collected

    Remove the pressure to always appear calm by understanding the right contexts for sharing your inner feelings.

    🚪 Disclosure

    Help people get to know you beyond your job title in an authentic way.

    🌡 Temperature Check

    Take a conversation from surface-level to deep comfortably without oversharing or undersharing.


    Expressing: heartbreak over harmony

    Module 4: the declaration of interdependence

    One of the greatest challenges of relationships is being with others without losing ourselves - to share what we really need and resist bending over backwards to get those needs met. You will learn how to advocate for yourself through the art of asking and saying no.

    ❤️‍🩹 Heartbreak over Harmony

    Experience more freedom by leaning into difficult conversations and shifting away from avoidance.

    🧲 Invitation

    Feel less regret and resentment towards others by asking for what you need in the moment.

    🚦 Boundaries

    Say "no" in a way where others leave having more respect & understanding towards you.

    come for skills but stay for the people

    OUR community

    Most people think they can learn to be better communicators by reading more books.

    But it is only through experience in a community where you can practice, receive rare interpersonal feedback, and improve your skills.

    This is not just another series of bonedry Zoom calls. It is a Michelin-star experience where you’ll be inspired by your peers to take on the subtler skills in presence, listening, and tapping into the intelligence of emotion.

    You’ll be part of a global community of generous, intentional, compassionate, and emotionally intelligent humans.


    Imagine 8 weeks with a group of people who:

    • Share the same commitment to improving themselves in service of their personal relationships.
    • Understand that what limits the quality of our life is the softer, emotion-centered aspects of our humanity.
    • Challenge you to communicate with both directness and care
    • Cheer you on as you show up in your relationships the most confident you ever have.

    Our students are from all walks of life and are (secretly) some of the most interesting people:

    • A software engineer who befriends ambiguity by performing improv
    • A student moonlighting as a stand-up comic
    • A director of philanthropy who is writing a children’s book
    • An investment banker-turned climate change activist
    • A cook who live-streams cooking and gaming
    • A powerlifting mom who’s raising two young daughters with a love for athleticism

    Our Relating Between the Lines alumni community can be found bringing more play, skill, and heart to organizations like:


    old habits die hard

    Are you tired of?

    getting lost in all the advicE

    ➡️ Reading books like "How to Win Friends and Influence People", "Daring Greatly", and "Crucial Conversations" and wondering how to apply all the competing advice?

    ➡️ Consuming content that is theoretical and abstract but not applicable by Monday?

    ➡️ Getting endless advice to focus on what you should do, but not how to do it?

    Struggling to Listen

    ➡️ Struggling to stay present in conversations because you're preoccupied with trying to add value?

    ➡️ Embarrassing yourself by incorrectly jumping to conclusions?

    ➡️ Not knowing what questions to ask to keep a conversation going?


    ➡️ Walking on eggshells, wondering if you are showing too much or too little emotions?

    ➡️ Feeling misunderstood, but not knowing how to share more about who you are beyond your job title?

    ➡️ Feeling paralyzed by the fear of hurting someone if you were to say "no" more often?


    this program is for you if...

    ✅ You're open to admitting that the way you've related with others in the past may need to change if you want to achieve deeper and more meaningful connections.

    ✅ You’ve tried the “conventional advice” about reading Brene Brown, listening to Esther Perel's podcasts, and understanding your MBTI, but you’re still not sure why your relationships aren't as satisfying as they could be.

    ✅ You believe that just like going to the gym, connecting well is a muscle you have to exercise.

    ✅ You realize that there are so few opportunities to practice soft skills without being judged.

    ✅ You've gotten as far as you can on your own, but you know "what got you here won't get you there" — and you're open to learning new tools that will improve your communication.


    what is included

    🖍 ESSENTIAL experience

    Best for busy, independent individuals who want to build a strong foundation and prefer to work at a relaxed pace

    Four 2-hour Live Experiences

    Taught by Norman over Zoom, you will learn the Principles and Practices to help you connect more confidently.


    Seven 90-minute
    Campfire Hours

    Experience the range of depth and lightness in weekly Campfire Conversations, and stay accountable for your goals with your accountability buddies.

    Conversations Toolkit

    Decades of best practices, boiled down into this handy toolkit, available only to RBTL participants.


    Accountability by Design

    Weekly peer check-ins and video-guided connection challenges ensure you get the most out of the program.

    Private online community to support your learning

    Learn from your peers and get feedback on challenges you take on from week to week.


    Invitation to The Space Between Membership

    Get continued support from Norman and Stephanie and the alumni community in our monthly membership.


    🎒 PREMIUM experience

    Best for community-driven folks who thrive in a hands-on environment and seek a transformative experience

    Everything in the
    Essential Experience

    Get the foundations you need to have Campfire Conversations.


    Four 2-hour Immersion Sessions

    Guided sessions where our facilitators coach you and give you real-time feedback on the practices.

    Bi-weekly 60 minute
    Q&A with Norman 

    Get your questions answered and learn additional tips and tricks beyond the class material.


    Invitation to The Space Between Fellowship

    Our most powerful hands-on learning experience for those who want to develop mastery of the skills.

    Free re-enrollment into future Live Experiences for 12 months

    Benefit from future program updates and get a refresher for up to another year.


    make every conversation count

    Stop overthinking. Start connecting.

    RBTL Cohort 5 applications open in March 2022.


      A Generous Guarantee

      Try Relating Between the Lines for 30 Days, 100% Risk-Free


      We want this investment to be 100% risk-free. If you attend all the Lives and Campfire Hours, complete the Weekly Challenges, and submit your Intermission weekly check-in's, and still don't find the course valuable, we’ll happily refund your full payment within 30 days of the start of the program.

      Before we built Relating Between the Lines, we spent a combined 11 years and $100,000 in courses, coaching and programs to understand the best way to teach relational intelligence, only to find out these two things:

      1. Some of the programs did a great job teaching concepts

      2. Some were successful in leading impactful weekend-long experiences

      However, none of the experiences were successful in both giving us concrete, repeatable, proven techniques AND shifting long-term habits in the way we communicate and connect.

      That's why we spent the last year committed to building a comprehensive program—we want to bridge academic theory AND practical application. We sat down and thought hard about what we couldn't get from those programs we experienced, and we committed to answering the hard questions:

      • How do we model the depth & playfulness that we teach, in every single touchpoint with our students - before, during, and after the program?

      • How can we bridge textbook knowledge AND practical application?

      • How can we teach soft skills at an accelerated pace that sticks with you for life? (Not all of us have 10+ years to spend doing trial-and-error.)

      Relating Between the Lines is not like any other program: it is a comprehensive curriculum, practical training, AND an emotionally intelligent community to grow with. Each part is meticulously designed - a learning ecosystem that transforms you. It is our magnum opus that we proudly welcome you to experience.

      We prioritize a pedagogical approach that engages equally your mind and heart. We designed learning tools to ensure you walk away with practical ready-to-use-by-Monday skills. On a human level, we don't let our students slip through the cracks. We think every person deserves to experience the greatest quality of connection possible within their relationships so we devote ourselves tirelessly to ensure you leave the program a different person - as your best self.

      So we invite you to try Relating Between the Lines for 30 days, and if you don't love it, just email us at ANY TIME during the first 30 days and we will refund 100% of your price. You can even keep the toolkit.

      R. Buckminster Fuller once said "When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty but when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong." We want you to have a beautiful learning experience. If we are unable to deliver that to you, we will refund you in full during the first 30 days of the course. But if you are ready to get started on this journey, we are ready to meet you. See you in class!

      - Norman and Stephanie



      your instructor


      Norman Tran


      Norman is known for being one of the youngest facilitators of Stanford's famous Touchy Feely class, and is currently helping the professor who trained him to co-design a version of the class that will equip a whole new generation of leaders who can connect skillfully online.

      But it wasn't always this way. Norman is familiar with the pain of being alone, feeling misunderstood, and not knowing the right words to say. As an artistic gay Asian child who had a wild imagination, he struggled to connect with others. He felt too awkward to ask other kids to be his friend, and later became too aggressive in trying to extract more depth from conversations.

      In 2014, he was really lucky to take an abridged version of Stanford's "Touchy Feely" class, where he discovered emotional intelligence is learnable. Those two weeks changed his life and he soon concluded that he wanted to create a career intersecting facilitation, his lifelong love of aesthetics, and playful improv.

      After designing learning experiences for companies like Facebook, IDEO, Stanford d.school, Norman created Relating Between the Lines to gift to you what he did not have growing up. His greatest wish is to help people rediscover the joy of coloring outside the lines - not with crayons, but with their being.

      He's designed programs for a few companies you might know.



      Meet the FACILITATION team


      Stephanie Tran


      From origami, to poetry, to putting Hallmark to shame with her handmade giftcards, Stephanie has always loved making things as a child. But Stephanie grew up in a household and environment that valued professional success over creative expression. She has since been on a lifelong search for worthiness, not from an external source like a job, but from an internal one that recognizes her own creative spirit and inherent value. This led her to create a wellness company that taught people how to design healthier lifestyles by talking through shame, not running away from it. 

      As a mentor to many, she deeply cares for people living fulfilled lives, and has helped hundreds of people seek what they really want within themselves, their careers, and their relationships. And that is the gift she brings to the Relating Between the Lines Community: to live more fulfilling lives by getting clarity on what we need, and how to communicate it.


      Jiggy Yoon


      Growing up, Jiggy's mom seared into her consciousness the idea that "high performance" was the be-all-end-all of goals. But when her mother lost her battle to cancer, Jiggy questioned the gospel of pursuing excellence for excellence's sake. In her search, she took a course by Dr. Christopher Uhl, which introduced to her the idea that what we need more in life is not excellence, but self-compassion. She quickly rose from student to assistant lecturer because of how much the message resonated with her, and she now actively teaches this to competitive athletes, entrepreneurs, and young adults.

      In Relating Between the Lines, Jiggy is helping people see that the greatest act of self-love is to be fully who we are. For her, it's that it's possible to have a chronic illness and be an athlete, to be well-mannered and tatted, to be reflective and outspoken, to be queer and Christian, for we are the space between our labels.


      Kevin Do


      “Don’t be a pussy.” Like many men, Kevin’s environment conditioned him to be tough and to suppress feelings. Because he didn’t have a space that encouraged exploring feelings of shame, helplessness, and sadness - he often felt alone and suffered in silence. Upon realizing that the root cause of his inability to express was tied to his family’s dismissal of feelings, Kevin set out to learn how to reconnect with his own so that he wouldn’t continue the intergenerational cycle. He later realized “Men shouldn’t have to suppress their feelings - it's what it makes them human."

      As a manager at Greenhouse, Kevin challenges Silicon Valley’s cultural norms by prioritizing the human first in order to get stuff done. He has created programs for self-care, and self-advocacy through nonviolent communication. He brings to Relating Between the Lines his superpower of helping people feel permission to embrace the highs and lows of life.



      what participants are saying


      What participants feel after
      Relating Between the Lines sessions






      Our work draws from the expertise that spans many fields, and below are some of them to help you get a window into our tapestry of inspirations.

      • Learning Design: Stanford d.school K12 Lab, Harvard's Making Learning Visible, August Co
      • Experience Design: Jenny Sauer-Klein, Leela Improv
      • Facilitation & Coaching: Stanford Graduate School of Business, Jerry Colonna
      • Ontology & Systems: Joe Edelman, Russell Klusas
      • Storytelling: Alain de Botton, Maria Popova, Seth Godin

      We are thrilled you are interested in joining the Relating Between the Lines program!

      • The Fall cohort of RBTL will run for 8 weeks, kicking off on Wednesday, September 29, 2021, and ending on Friday, December 10, 2021. We will not have any class the week of Thanksgiving.
      • The application window is open for 13 days, starting Friday, August 27 and closing on Wednesday, September 8.

      We only offer this program twice a year, and applications for the next cohort will not be open again until March 2022 for our Spring 2022 cohort.

      In Relating Between the Lines, your psychological safety is our #1 priority. We understand that learning to communicate and improve your relationships can feel intimidating or nerve-wracking (we've been there too!).

      To ensure the best learning experience possible for every participant, we ask a series of questions in our onboarding survey to help us understand how we can best support you, and we keep your answers in mind when we pair you with your accountability partner(s) and with your facilitators for the Immersion Sessions. In the past, students who have identified as shy or introverted have found just as much fulfillment in the experience as those who identify as outspoken or extroverted.

      As you work on our communication skills, sharing in groups (1:1, small groups, and with the entire cohort) is a part of the experience. We will challenge you to be in the "stretch" zone (that's where growth happens, after all!), but we make sure never to cross over to the "panic" zone. Our facilitators are specifically trained to meet you where you are in your growth journey.

      If you decide you would benefit from further practice and engagement with the facilitation team, you will have an opportunity to decide after completing the entire program. If you enroll in the Essentials Experience, you will be invited to join an alumni-exclusive membership, where you can continue to receive support from the RBTL alumni community and guidance from Norman and Stephanie. If you enroll in the Premium or Executive Experience, you will be invited to join The Space Between Fellowship—our most powerful hands-on learning experience for those who want to develop mastery of the skills.

      No prior knowledge or prerequisites are required to take this program, but you will get the most out of this experience if you are committed to doing the work, being open-minded to being challenged, and be willing to be vulnerable and take risks in the sessions.

      The Essentials Experience is limited to 54 participants, the Premium Experience is limited to 16 participants, and the Executive Experience to 8 participants. While there is no way to guarantee a spot in the program, you can increase the likelihood of ensuring a seat in the program by applying as soon as the application window opens.

      For the next 12 months after RBTL Premium Experience or Executive Experience, you can participate in the Live Experiences again. You'll have the opportunity to experience any new program updates and get a refresher on the principles and practices!

      We want you to have the best experience possible, so if you can't attend the Live Experiences, we recommend you to apply for the next cohort. However, The Live Experiences will be recorded and shared shortly after the session has ended. If you are unable to join a session, you can watch the recording.

      You'll have access to the recordings of the Live Experiences for 1 year from when you begin the Relating Between the Lines program.

      The experience and content in Relating Between the Lines is not therapy and is not a replacement for therapy. The focus of Relating Between the Lines is on interpersonal effectiveness (relationship-oriented), rather than intrapersonal ones (self-oriented). We do not offer the appropriate support for highly traumatic personal issues, which would be better supported with a licensed therapist.


      Copyright © 2021 The Space Between LLC